Is it Possible to Become an Existentialist?

After reading Albert Camus’s The Stranger and “The Myth of Sisyphus”, I am left wondering if it is even possible to be able to develop a complete existentialist mindset. Existentialists reject societal fabrications such as the idea that social constructs such as family have meaning, and they believe that pain and suffering are the only sure things in life. Since most humans are brought up to believe in these very social constructs, it seems as if it would be nearly impossible to completely reject them, only to replace them with existentialist thought.

I acknowledge that Meursault from The Stranger certainly holds existentialist views. He constantly rejects the acceptance of common social norms, such as when he experiences little remorse after killing the Arab. However, it is important to understand that, first of all, Meursault is fictional. He is the result of Camus’s imagination, and I find it unlikely that anyone like him truly exists. Second, event though Meursault is fictional, he is still human. Humans are the so-called existentialists, but it is important to must remember that humans inherently make mistakes. Therefore, it is unlikely that it could be possible to completely let go of societal fabrications in favor of pure existentialist thought.

The myth of Sisyphus and Camus’s interpretation of Sisyphus’s story in “The Myth of Sisyphus” illustrates the idea that humans (in this case, Sisyphus), can change their outlook to reflect existentialist thought and therefore become more at ease with life. After Sisyphus adopts existentialist thought, Camus argues, he becomes less bogged down with his fate. However, as in the case of Meursault, Sisyphus is human. It is unlikely for him to reject all of his previous modes of thinking in favor of existentialist ideals, regardless of his situation.

3 thoughts on “Is it Possible to Become an Existentialist?

  1. mfriedman62

    I think this is a really intriguing question and I am glad that you though to address it. I have pondered the ability to adopt an existentialist point of view after reading “The Stranger” and came to the conclusion that it is very difficult for one to change so drastically. The commitment of detachment that one would have to possess to break away from “societal constructs” like family and community would be impressively high and wouldn’t present a valuable enough outcome to undergo such change.


  2. Michael S. III

    I don’t think you can become a true existentialist shedding your memories and morals requires lots of time, more than we live for certainly.


  3. Jenna K

    I think that is a very hard question to answer. But as existentialism suggests, life is absurd, so there is a possibility that real people in our world believe such ideas and that people can become an existentialist.


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